The tech-blog rumor mill was in high gear over the weekend when a number of outlets reported that action movie star Bruce Willis was planning on bringing suit against Apple over the ownership of his music.
The story went that Willis – who, believe it or not, is made of flesh and blood much like you or me – was preparing his estate and wished to pass on his vast music collection to his daughter. It seemed that Willis is also a fan of iTunes, frequently purchasing and downloading tracks from Apple’s online music storefront. But in the process of bequeathing his earthly possessions to his kin he found that he couldn’t transfer ownership of his collection of songs to his daughter.
So, is Apple about to be on the receiving end of Willis’ particular brand of rootin’ tootin’, shoot-first-ask-questions-later style of ass kicking, legally speaking?
Short answer: no. Long answer: awwwww but come on, that would be awesome.
Blur is still set to perform at London’s Hyde Park for the Olympics closing ceremony in August, but what happens after that is anybody’s guess, says Albarn. “Some days I feel one way and other days I feel the other….We want to put on a great performance, but nothing’s been said between us about the beginning or the end.” As for the Gorillaz, it seems that Albarn is feeling a little more optimistic than before, leaving future prospects up to co-creator Jamie Hewlett. “When Jamie [Hewlett] and I have worked out our differences, I’m sure we’ll make another record,” he says, in reference to a falling out between the two musicians.
According to RollingStone, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz has provided clear indication that both bands are reaching their end. In an interview with The Guardian, Albarn was asked if Blur had planned any performance dates after their upcoming and anticipated Olympic closing concert. Albarn responded with, ”No, not really. I hope that’s the truth and that that’s how we end it.” The singer also said that ”Under the Westway,” a new stand-alone single recorded by the band, is likely to be the last studio recording by the band. “I don’t really see any more recordings after this,” says Albarn. “So it’s nice to have finally done one song where we did it properly.”
Albarn indicated that the different priorities of his bandmates played a part in bringing Blur to an end, stating, “One thing I’ve learned, and I’m sure you’re exactly the same, is that everything I think I’ve got totally sorted out, and I know exactly what’s going to happen, it never works out that way,” he says. “I find it very easy to record with [guitarist] Graham [Coxon]. He’s a daily musician. With the other two, it’s harder for them to reconnect. You know what I mean? It’s fine when we play live – it’s really magical still – but actually recording new stuff, and swapping musical influences, it’s quite difficult.” Rolling Stone reports that the group had been slowly writing and recording new material over the past few years, but only the one-off singles “Fool’s Day” and “Under the Westway” were completed and released in that time, according to Albarn.
Albarn didn’t let up on the bad news, as he began to doubt on the future of Gorillaz as well, claiming a future for the band is “unlikely” due to a disagreement with his collaborator on the project, artist Jamie Hewlett: “Jamie [thinks Gorillaz is finished], which is fair enough. I think we were at cross purposes somewhat on that last record, which is a shame. So until a time comes when that knot has been untied…”
Continuing, he claimed that the tension between Hewlett and himself initially began when the artist didn’t provide much new art for the tour in support of their 2009 album Plastic Beach. “The music and the videos weren’t working as well together, but I felt we’d made a really good record, and I was into it. So we went and played it.”
Aspiring indie musicians, take note. If there was ever a sign that the Internet was integral to pushing your band, to promoting yourself and your music online, look no further then WU LYF to see a shining example of how it can be done. You see, WU LYF isn’t just a band, they’re a “brand”. And they’ve marketed their brand very, very well. How did they do it? “And how good can they really be,” you might ask, “since I have never heard of them?” It’s that unknown quantity, that mystery, that is integral to their success so far.
WU LYF, or World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation, are a British indie/experimental rock group who describe themselves as a “heavy pop” band with a quasi-radical/anarchistic aesthetic. That’s about as much as we can gather from our detective work. But, it’s that mystery, that mistique that is what brings the band their most attention. They’ve been around since at least 2010, letting songs trickle out every couple of months. With a historical aversion to shows and the rock press, the band notably “didn’t really do” live performances up until this year as they tour around the UK in support of their debut record Go Tell Fire To The Mountain which came out in mid-June to pretty positive reviews.
So what’s so special about a bunch of young hipsters that know their way around photoshop, have destructive youthful idealism and an anti-social attitude? All of that, actually, and they’re marketed well. Their manager, previously known only as “war god” was eventually revealed to be Warren Bramley, founder and manager of ad agency four23. The agency is known for unique, artistically-inclined campaigns for high profile clients like Oakley, Reebok and Virgin, as well as projects involving “[creating] visual identites”. Creepy. But they must be good at their job. Despite only maintaining a web presence and offering only one piece of merch—a £50 copy of their demo recordings—the group had already racked up write ups in major publications like The Guardian and NME. In fact, the most notable thing about the group, up until their record came out, was the fact that they get so much press coverage. It’s all very ironic, reflexive and meta andpeoplehavegobbleditup.
Band marketing has had a long, rich history in rock and roll. Though the purist rock fan will always cry foul over the manufactured and the ingenuine, image has always been a major factor in one’s appeal, “real” or not. In fact, the way many famous acts in rock and roll have gotten their starts as less than organic creations. Rock group Supertramp was originally assembled by the acquaintance/patron of a Dutch millionaire benefactor and The Monkees were assembled for the TV program of the same name in the 1960s. But a better example of a group with such a meticulously constructed image comes from the punk era late ’70s.
The Sex Pistols are regarded today as one of the most important punk bands in the history of rock music. However, the band didn’t truly get their start as a group until they came under the wing of local business owner Malcolm McLaren. The proprietor of local clothing shop SEX, McLaren had some experience in the punk scene already, having previously met the New York Dolls. So the group, soon after meeting McLaren, added another member to their ranks: Johnny Lydon. The man who would soon front the band and be rechristened Johnny Rotten was picked not because of his musical ability. Lydon first came to the attention of McLaren when he was spotted walking in Manchester sporting green hair and wearing a Pink Floyd shirt—a shirt which had the words “I Hate” added to the top and featured a face on the from which had the eyes crossed out. Another future member added to the band, John Simon Richie aka Sid Vicious, was also recruited due to his look and punk presence. McLaren himself later stated that had he met Vicious before Johnny Rotten, it would be Vicious fronting the band.
So let’s look at the similarities. The Sex Pistols were a London, UK-based rock group, which began as an underground sensation with a heavy following in the art/avant-garde community, and were groomed by a close business associate into becoming a group that everyone talked about and proved to be one of the most enduring acts of their era thanks in large part to their image and approach to being a band. WU LYF is a Manchester-based rock group made up of an enigmatic set of members which started out as an underground (as underground as a blog following can be these days) with a heavy following in the art/avant-grade community, which have been groomed by a close business associate, and have thus far generated a lot of buzz. Am I saying that WU LYF is the next Sex Pistols? Absolutely not. But they have as good a shot as any other act out these days.
Many groups espouse this kind of self-promotion these days; keep your online fan base satisfied but guessing with your output, maintain an intentionally mysterious and unknowable image and let the press promote you themselves with think pieces on what your group “really means” in terms of the big picture. Now, does this hype correspond to record sales? Well, not exactly. The band’s debut cracked the Top 100 in their first week’s sales – in the UK, mind you – and that’s been about it. They’re just starting out in their careers.
In terms of making a name for yourself, the old approach of tirelessly working and putting yourself out across as many types of social media still reaps the biggest rewards. But at least to generate buzz among a certain audience, WU LYF is doing a pretty good job of it.